4. redemption (or i rode my bike across a seven miles bridge surrounded by blues)


He woke up early, took a quick shower and walked his bike to Super Walmart. He locked it outside and went in to exchange a tire he had bought the previous evening hoping it would fit. He already knew then it wouldn't, but still bought it. He had done it may times before. Do something he knew it was wrong. Something he knew he would have to undo. Was he so insecure?

He decided to ride west to West Palm Beach. He had only one tube he could count on in his backpack. Twenty miles until South Bay, and then thirty more miles surrounded by nothingness until the outskirts of West Palm Beach. Once there, he would be safe. Once there, he would be able to look for a so desired local bike shop. By the beach many people ride bicycles. In Clewiston, some people live in shabby houses but, of course, have a ginormous pickup truck parked in the careless yard.

Nothingness means nothingness. His brain, though, would keep him busy. Sometimes it would go blank. Emptiness. Only then he would feel the ephemeral taste of freedom.

The road became more and more dangerous. Truck drivers are all on the phone. It was red. It passed as close to him as it could without touching him. A red truck. He was thrown out of the road and let himself fall into the mud. Sitting there he smiled at the next truck driver. Also on the phone. The one that would have taken his life away if he would have been thrown in rather than out. A sign caught his attention: Lake Okeechobee Trail.

"Of course, for mountain bikes," he thought, still smiling, before laughing.

He carried his bicycle up a little hill. Paradise. The trail was paved and the lake, the lake was gorgeous. He felt then his luck was changing. He, for the first time in a long time, flew rather than ride. He cried again. But those were tears of joy. An eagle flew over his head, and for an instant he wished it would have never ended, it preceded his saunter. The eagle. The lake. The hill. Pause. Where is the remote?

After that, monotonous. He had a flat tire ten miles away from his goal. A second one, two miles later, after being invited to a hot dog without a dog by a solitary street vendor. Eight miles to walk. And then, and then Walter.

"Dios te ha puesto en mi camino. Y con eso me ha brindado la posibilidad de tomar una decisión. Ayudarte o no ayudarte."

He stopped his trailer in the middle of the road. All the cars behind started honking. He, and his bike, jumped in. The truck driver gave him a ride to the trailer parking first, where they jumped into his pickup truck, and to a bike shop later. Unfortunately, in the first bike shop they went to they did not have the tire he needed. A matter of size. Nevertheless, they referred them to a second one.

"No tienes que invitarme a cenar," he said. "Si quieres devolverme el favor, lo único que tienes que hacer es ayudar a esa persona que Dios pondrá en tu camino para brindarte, como a mí, la posibilidad de tomar una decisión."

Walter was from Cuba. He had won a Green Card while he was in prison for making money under the communist regime. Once free, he had moved to Florida leaving behind a wife and two daughters that would soon be with him after seven years apart. And then, the same way he arrived, he left.

That night, for the first time, he fell sleep knowing that he would make it to Key West. Knowing that getting to Key West was not important anymore. While listening to Corazón Loco by Bebo & Cigala, and the swinging of the waves.

to be continued

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